Wednesday, July 30, 2008


It's the end of the month! July is gone, kaput, outta here. This can mean only one thing: It's time to report your tutoring hours for the month. Please report your hours absolutely no later than Thursday, August 7. I need to submit the report to the state the next day as that is the last day I'll be in the office prior to our three-week summer break.

Thanks for your cooperation!

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Notes from the field

Do you ever wonder if other tutors are having experiences similar to yours? One of the great delights of my job is reading the stories sent to me by tutors each month. This month, volunteer Jean Clark shared some of her recent experiences. Jean is pictured here, modeling a traditional Karen shirt she received as a gift from her students.--SM

The fun and learning continue--on both sides. Ma Ho, all of a sudden, decided to teach me some Karen words. Oh, have we laughed. I love it. I made sure to know many of them when I arrived today, which they got a real kick out of. I just thought that it was a sign of respect for them for me to do so. Now, we're really into it so that I can test them in English as I "say" the Karen word.

My book club (my tennis, golf buddies who are all retired teachers) is getting such a kick out of my stories that they have adopted them to give them things. When I arrive with my bags of goodies, the ladies have so much fun going through them. They make piles which, I'm sure means that they have people in mind that they will give things to. Moo Na's daughter in law is wonderful and helps me to cart things up the 4 flights of stairs. They have a car so I got a great car seat. She also needed a vacuum that I brought today from another friend. All of my friends have grandchildren so I'm pushing to get clothes and toys from them. I've gotten a lot of books for the kids from Goodwill--I get a Sr. discount and I also got them a globe--out of date, Burma is still Burma and Russia is still the USSR but it seemed to be a revelation for them to spin it between Burma and the US.

After much prodding and hand holding, Moo Na wrote her name for the very first time on an official document. She wanted to make her usual, X, but I wouldn't let her now that she is able to do it.

Ma Ho can write her name and address and can give me accurately, any amount of money that I ask for. She is so smart.

They are the dearest people. As you can imagine, the door to the apt is always open and I include everyone who walks in the door. I had a food tasting the other day---Apple, peach, plum etc. I asked Moo Na for a knife to divide everything up. She appeared with a very large machete that was very old and worn. I don't even want to know where that's been. I have extra sharp knives that I'll bring over.

I'm a part of these three families and love every minute of it.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Iraqi refugees face frustration in U.S.

In case you missed it, NPR ran an interesting story this morning about an Iraqi refugee who had trouble finding work in his field--IT--until someone thousands of miles away stepped in to help. You don't need to listen to the story-you can read the text version online. Click here.

The story also has a link to another piece that aired in February and told the story of the young man who was frustrated and disappointed by his job search in this country. This article does a particularly good job of explaining some of the pressures and realities that all refugees face when they are resettled in the U.S.

These two short articles are well worth your time.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Update from the crafts initiative

Sea to Sea Bike Tour--Denver Rally
Sunday, July 27
Englewood High School
3800 S. Logan St.
Englewood, Colorado

9:00 a.m. to 10:30 a.m.
and then
11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.

Please note that there is a one-hour church service starting at 10:30 and the booth area might not be open at that time.

The Sea To Sea Bike tour includes more than 200 bicyclists riding across the United States (and part of Canada) from Puget Sound to the shadow of the Statue of Liberty. The purpose of the tour is to raise awareness of and to inspire others to work to end the cycle of poverty locally, nationally, and globally. To learn more about the tour and its purpose, visit

A Little Something was invited to participate in this event because of our mission and commitment to empowerment through education and self-sufficiency. The rally is not a crafts fair or festival like those we normally attend; rather, it is meant to bring people together to learn about and connect with volunteer opportunities that build supportive communites and programs that contribute to ending the cycle of poverty.

Sharon (who is a former Very Serious Cyclist herself) will be wearing two hats at once and hoping it's not too hot, as she is not only the volunteer coordinator for the Colorado Refugee English as a Second Language In-Home Tutoring Program but also a member of Team A Little Something. If you're not busy next Sunday morning, stop in and maybe buy a nice necklace or a woven bag, or just chat with us about why we do what we do. Of course, if you'd like to bring a friend who might like to be a home tutor, Sharon would really like to talk to you!

Since this event will be relatively small, it would be a good time for you to come and shop with us--take your time, try things on...We hope to see you there.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

PBS: Darfur on Wide Angle

Wide Angle: Heart of Darfur
KBDI Channel 12, Denver
Thursday, July 17 1:30 a.m.
Sunday, July 27 7:00 p.m.
or view online (see below)

photo: National Geographic

Throughout the month of July, the PBS series, Wide Angle, is featuring a documentary about Darfur. Many stations are also running a P.O.V. documentary about Darfur, On Our Watch.

Both documentaries examine the Darfur situation, but in different ways. On Our Watch details how and why the conflict has gone mostly unaddressed by UN member nations. Be advised that the film is graphic and very disturbing. You might feel deeply disillusioned after this one, if not a little nauseated.

The current documentary, Heart of Darfur, shows what the complxity of the current situation is, why it is happening, why little has changed, and the daily dilemma faced by the UN/African Union peace keeping forces.

Both of these incredibly compelling documentaries go beyond the story of Darfur as they provide sad yet valuable insight into the troubles faced by millions of refugees around the world.

For more information or to watch the documentary online, visit the PBS Wide Angle Website. The site has an extensive collection of resources--including interviews, videos, and background reading--related to the program and the war in Darfur.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Ka-BOOM!! And the rockets' red glare

Although many people welcome the joyous, thundering sound and bright flash of fireworks on the Fourth of July, these same sounds can be very unsettling for others.

Many of the people enrolled in the in-home tutoring program lived in the midst of war, surrounded by the noise of exploding ordnance. What sounds like celebratory noise making for us may bring back traumatic memories for our students.

It might be helpful if you let your student know about the fireworks ahead of time. Try to explain with pictures (and sound effects, if necessary) what will be happening and when. Most Denver-area celebrations and fireworks displays will be on Friday or Saturday night. Some are in the midst of a residential area, as is the case in Glendale. Fair warning is a very good way to put minds at ease! In my neighborhood, there aren't any professional shows, but the neighbors have been scaring the heck out of my dog with all of the premature firecrackers and illegal fireworks. The neighbors got about a two-week head-start on the holiday, and that has to be confusing for those who don't understand what's going on.

If you think your student will be OK, why not take her to see a fireworks show? What a wonderful way to share America's birthday with a newcomer!

Want to try a group?

I currently have a need for a team teacher who can work with a group of pre-literate Somali Bantu women. The class meets twice a week, but you would only teach one of those days, unless you wanted to assist the Thursday teacher.

There are currently about seven women enrolled in the class; however, due to a recent baby boom, attendance has been somewhat erratic.

Class is held in the Lincoln South public housing complex close to the light rail station at 10th Ave. at Osage St., near downtown Denver. The commitment is 2.5 hours of teaching per week, plus prep time. This is a team teaching assignment, and you must be willing to work under the direction of the lead teacher.

The volunteer in this position must be female. It would be most helpful if you have experience working with very low-level learners. Call Sharon at 720-423-4843 if you would like more information about the class.